The tragedy of Minamata may be a thing of the past for many, but as the world unites to take action on mercury pollution the dangers remain all too real.
At first it was a mystery. Three young girls stricken with an unknown disease in April of 1956, slurring their words, struggling to walk and suffering unexplained convulsions. Soon there were eight patients. By October there were 40 – 14 of whom had died. And the numbers kept growing.
(Göteborg, Sweden) The Minamata Convention, the world’s first legally binding global agreement to reduce mercury pollution, becomes International law on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017. Environmental health leaders from IPEN (a global network of NGOs in over 100 countries combatting toxic pollutants) celebrate the historical global health and environmental treaty and call on world governments to take the next steps to ensure “no more Minamatas.”
An environmental group on Sunday warned consumers against buying and using smuggled beauty products that contain high levels of mercury.
EcoWaste Coalition coordinator Thony Dizon said 10 imported facial whitening and freckle removing creams from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan contain mercury way above the regulatory limit of one part per million (ppm).
A new study, supported by the Minamata Convention’s Interim Secretariat hosted by UN Environment, reveals that women of childbearing age living in four Pacific Island countries have elevated levels of mercury in their bodies. Mercury monitoring in women of childbearing age in the Asia and the Pacific Region, jointly conducted by the interim secretariat of the Minamata Convention, Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), and the global NGO network IPEN, examined hair samples from women aged 18 - 44 from Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Kiribati, and two landlocked Asian countries, Tajikistan and Nepal.